Five months to the day, Shasta County Sheriff’s Deputies arrested Mark Gilbert Duenas, 52, at his Cottonwood residence Friday, Oct. 5, for the May 5 stabbing death of his then-51-year-old wife of 33 years, Karen Kay Duenas.
Officials were acting on DNA evidence analyzed by the California Department of Justice laboratory as well as multiple interviews that had previously led authorities early on to name Mark Duenas as a “person of interest” in the investigation, stated Sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Steve Grashoff.
“Our investigation continued for months as there were numerous amounts of evidence located at the scene (that) needed to be processed. The Department of Justice aided us in this investigation by processing such evidence,” Grashoff wrote in a report released Friday, Oct. 5.
“After analyzing all of the evidence and conducting a multitude of interviews, we determined that Mark Duenas murdered his wife,” Grashoff stated.
A warrant was issued Friday, Oct. 5, for the arrest of Mark Duenas, who back on June 5 had hired Ron Powell of Rancho Cucamonga in Ontario, Calif., to act on his behalf as his attorney. Duenas was arrested at his Robinson Glen Drive home, the same residence to which authorities had responded shortly after midnight in early May to reports of a female victim with major injuries.
In the first 13 seconds of the original 911 call made from Mark Duenas to SHASCOM the night of Karen’s murder he was heard to say, “I got ah, I killed my wife…I’m, blood everywhere,” a Superior Court of California, County of Shasta Criminal Complaint document said.
Mark Duenas later denied it was him that was recorded on the 911 call, the complaint states.
Upon arrival, the sheriff’s deputies discovered Karen Duenas, an instructor at Shasta College in Redding, already dead inside the master bedroom at the residence.
Her upper body was propped up on a large pillow and her face and arms had been wiped of blood, the report said.
First to respond, Deputy Troy McCoy saw that Karen Duenas had a large wound on the ride side of her chest and appeared to have no signs of life.
Within two days, Shasta County Sheriff’s Office representatives announced the death was a homicide, Cottonwood’s first since Carole Garton was murdered May 16, 1998.
During the initial investigation of the crime Mark Duenas was observed to be sleeping on the couch but then after a few moments pulled the blanket down from his face and asked, “You find anything out there?” according to the complaint. A deputy then asked “Where?” and he responded, “Aw, never mind,” and closed his eyes appearing to go back to sleep.
During the months leading up to Karen Duenas’ death, Mark Duenas had re-established an old relationship with a married woman who lived in another state, a report said. Karen Duenas soon discovered the calls and texts that were being sent and confronted him asking him to stop communication.
Mark Duenas then acquired a secret cell phone; however the woman broke off their relationship in February, a report said.
Around the same time Karen Duenas received an apology letter from the woman.
After detectives interviewed the woman she said Mark Duenas had previously made a statement that for them to be together “something bad would have to happen,” according to the document.
Mrs. Duenas was the mother of five boys, many of them star athletes at West Valley High School.
Mark Duenas has been booked into Shasta County Jail on a single charge of murder, Grashoff said.
Further details will be revealed later by representatives of the Shasta County District Attorney’s Office, the Sheriff’s Sgt. said.